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90                                       VERDICT   OX IXDIA
few thousands may move greater forces than a whole chain of
popular newspapers.
However, the fact that Indian newspapers sell in such tiny
quantities carries with it certain important implications. Firstly,
it means that journalists do not earn a living wage, or anything
like it. Whereas in England a successful journalist can compete
on at least equal terms with the members of any other profession,
in India, even if he rises to the top of the tree, he will still be a
poor man. Indian journalists arc very near the hunger line.
This means that very few of the best brains of India's youth are
attracted by the profession. It is recruited from duds...the
'failed B.A.s/ the black sheep of the family. To be interviewed in
India, by all but a few star reporters, is extremely fatiguing ; one
has to spell most words over three syllables and any reference to
personalities of world importance is met with a blank stare.
There is another very grave consequence of this low rate of
pay. it tends inevitably to corruption. In a later chapter I have
quoted a remark made by one of the chief directors of Film
Publicity for all India, himself an Indian. He said :' Film criticism
iu India is either bribery or blackmail/ He might have applied
his censure to any other form of criticism.
As a result there are practically no independent leaders of public
opinion. Admittedly, in the West we are too inclined to let our
newspapers do our thinking for us, but at least those newspapers
provide a platform for a number of observers who are above
fornipfcion (for example, the cartoons of Low, in the London
Evening Standard, arc often in direct conflict with Beaverbrook's
policy; and Dorothy Thompson's international outlook, in the
early part of the war. must frequently have given severe headaches
to her editorial board). But in India, nobody can ever ask,
'What has Dorothy Thompson written? What does Walter
Lippinan say ? Has J. B. Priestley expressed any opinion ?' For in
India there are no persons even vaguely corresponding to bhese.
There are no national oracles, outside the ranks of the politicians ;
there are not even any national jesters. And it goes without saying
that there are HO national critics of art or the theatre for the very
simple reason that there te no art to study1 and no theatre to
1 f<ee a later chapter entitled. * In Search of an Artist"